Waimea topple Stoke in thriller
Story by: JONATHAN MCKEOWN - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Chris Symes and Barry Whitnall
Jacks pulled away from Prices and Nelson College for Girls ran Richmond close, but the biggest cheer at Saxton Stadium this premier netball season was reserved for Waimea College as they toppled Stoke in an engaging game on court two.
This one meant a lot to Waimea College Senior A, as was evident from the instantaneous embraces following the final whistle in a 63-60 win over Stoke NBS. In a match that went down to the wire, it was a third quarter tactical move and a superior shooting game that brought about victory for the college team.
Stoke had the better of the first half as an active zone defence often forced Waimea to look across court, meaning more passes per possession and more opportunities for turnovers. Stoke were able to convert those opportunities well as the height, strength and guile of goal shoot Megan Thompson was unmatched in the circle, with Thompson shooting 22 goals at 90 per cent in the first half. Cue a key change in the match.
In the third quarter Waimea coach Faye Eden brought back Freya Watson in the goal keep position allowing mobile 14-year-old Hannah Davenhill to escape the shadow of Thompson and move with more freedom to disrupt around the circle. In combination, the defensive pair forced more missed shots and claimed more rebounds; as a result the Stoke shooters could only manage a 50 per cent strike rate in the third.At the other end moving Gracie Roberts from goal defence to goal attack had a knock-on effect. The movement increased in the final third and feeding became more direct to goal shoot Shaun Aindow who shot 41 goals at 80 per cent under relentless pressure.
There were some amazing midcourt clashes and although Stoke edged the battle through the industrious defence of Hilary Jones and quality ball of Abbie Cook, coach Priyani de Silva-Currie said it was the shooting that let them down.
"We didn't make the most of our opportunities and we missed more goals than them, I think we missed 27 to their 19.
"It didn't mean as much for us. We are still in the final of Tasman Trophy and we got the bonus point so we will stay in premier.
"Waimea are a good side and they deserve to be in premier, but we'll beat them when it matters."
Eden was in a less pragmatic mood.
"Oh yeah, that was sweet," she said. "This was the one that mattered in our season and they really believed in themselves."
Across on court one, Prices Pharmacy had the measure of Jacks OPD Richmond in the first half but when the pressure came on Jacks moved up a gear to take the match by a comfortable 61-47 margin.
For the first 25 minutes of this game speedy short passes allowed Prices to navigate the Jacks defence, and goal shoot Rebecca Dudley was unflappable in the first half while playing her best game of the season.
At the other end Prices' Christta Burrows was playing an obtrusive game at wing defence, harrying her opposition and picking off the second phase ball. Prices went into quarter time with a 13-12 lead, but at an injury break just prior to the end of the second period, Jacks cocked the hammer and shot into the lead.
In the third quarter Jacks applied more pressure in defence. A notable lift in intensity went hand in hand with more intercepts, as Louise Monge-Grassi picked off many a long pass.
At the opposite end Jodi Hikuroa was seeing more opportunities and her shooters were creating more space. Hikuroa combined well with Leanne Cook and Ani-Marie Waitai as they shut the game out.
"I think ultimately the girls knew what strategies they had to put into place to win the game and they did that for half the game," said Tom Alesana, assistant coach for Prices Pharmacy.
Jacks coach Robyn Leonard said: "When we play with intensity we play our best netball. There was a moment in the second quarter when the girls went, wham, it made such a difference."
In the late match on court one Nelson College for Girls Senior A had their best game in premier grade as they pushed defending champions Richmond Robbies Bar and Bistro all the way in a 57-46 loss. However, when Nelson looks back at this match they will see a prime opportunity to beat the reigning premiers, which slipped through their fingers.
Richmond were forced to try new combinations that will take the court during upcoming clashes with basketball fixtures, and when you strike a Richmond team that sits down Nicki Rampton, Kat Jones and Amy Cunningham (nee Russ), you have to make the most of it.
There was a period when Nelson looked like they would get on top, moving to within three goals, but as coach Kathryn Orange said: "We could have had that game tonight, we played very well, but it was an opportunity we missed."